When you hit rock bottom, it’s tempting to cut your losses and give up, to drag out plan B and settle for something different than success. But resilient leaders find that perseverance pays off.
Narayana Peesapaty, a scientist in India, invented an edible spoon to reduce the rise in disposable plastic utensils that add to garbage-strewn landfills. He devised a way to bake spoons made of sorghum, a nutrient-rich grain, to scoop up food, stir coffee and still taste appetizing enough that users wouldn’t throw them out.
Peesapaty, 50, has spent the last 10 years hatching his business. He has undergone repeated setbacks and frustrations.
As recently as early 2016, his financial struggles led the bank to threaten to take his apartment. What’s worse, he broke his collarbone in a motorbike accident.
Then opportunity struck. A video team from a popular website, Better India, featured Peesapaty in a segment on uplifting entrepreneurial profiles.
“Everything that could go wrong was going wrong,” Peesapaty recalls. Recovering from his accident, he appeared on video with a bandage protruding from under his shirt.
Yet Peesapaty made the best of his predicament. He hyped his spoons with enthusiasm, despite his increasingly desperate straits.
When the video clip posted to Better India’s website, people noticed. Within a week, it had attracted five million views. News media discovered the video and interviewed Peesapaty, generating even more exposure.
A tipping point had been reached. Sales boomed. Peesapaty could barely keep up with the onslaught of orders for his spoons.
Peesapaty’s ability to shove aside his troubles—from his dire finances to the physical pain from his accident—paved the way for his success. His determination to put the best face on his business when the camera was rolling won over viewers.
— Adapted from “Word of Mouth,” Raymond Zhong, www.wsj.com.